It is shaping up to be an exciting year for the blues in 2007. One of the biggest events on the blues calendar each year wrapped earlier this month, voting has closed for the Blues Music Awards, and the first major blues release of the year will be in stores in April. This Blues Roundup will get you up to speed with recent and upcoming events as well as serve as a guide to BCMagazine's ongoing blues coverage.
2007 International Blues Challenge Results
BC Magazine told you about the 23rd IBC Finals, which took place in Memphis, TN, February 1-3. The IBC is the world's largest collection of blues bands, all of them competing for cash, prizes, and the attention of blues fans the world over. Here are your winners:
1st–Sean Carney Band (Columbus Blues Alliance)
2nd–Homemade Jamz Blues Band (Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola)
3rd–Mighty Lester (Triangle Blues Society)
1st–Nathan James and Ben Hernandez (Blues Lovers United of San Diego)
2nd–Sonny Moorman (Cincy Blues Society)
Best Self Produced CD Category
We are Mighty Lester by Mighty Lester
BMA Voting Closed
Voting closed today for the 28th Annual Blues Music Awards. Voting was open to all Blues Foundation members and 2007 marks my first year as an eligible voters. BC Magazine has profiled a number of albums and artists nominated for BMAs. We will continue this series as we move closer to the ceremony. Be on the lookout for reviews of albums from Junior Wells, Michael Powers, Otis Rush, Janiva Magness, and more.
Prior to those awards, I will tell you who I voted for and why, and after the awards BC Magazine will have coverage of the winners from the biggest night for the biggest names in the blues.
The awards will be presented May 10 in Memphis.
New Watermelon Slim due in April
Watermelon Slim & The Workers have wasted no time following up their self-titled album (review), nominated for several 2006 BMAs. Slim's new album, The Wheel Man, will be released April 17 by the Northern Blues label. The new disc clocks in at 47 minutes spread over 14 tracks. Blues legend Magic Slim makes a guest appearance on the title cut.
The music world is filled with all sorts of eccentric personalities and strange stories. Watermelon Slim's story is one of the better ones. Slim (Bill Homans) is a certified genius. He holds degrees in history and journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in history from Oklahoma State University. He is also Vietnam veteran who taught himself to play guitar while in an Army hospital, teaching himself left-handed backward slide guitar using a cheap balsawood guitar and a Zippo lighter as the slide. He is the only Vietnam vet to record a full-length LP album during the Vietnam War. It was the underground release, Merry Airbrakes, a protest-tinged record.
Slim's professional career included stints as a teacher, farmer, and truck driver. His life spent on the road driving truck is a recurring theme in many of his songs. In 2002, he suffered a near fatal heart attack and that brush with death seems to have been the impetus to pursue his passion for music and the blues full time.
"Everything I do now has a sharper pleasure to it," he said. "I've lived a fuller life than most people could in two. If I go now, I've got a good education, I've lived on three continents, and I've played music with a bunch of immortal blues players. I've seen an awful lot and I've done an awful lot."
The tracklisting for The Wheel Man
1. The Wheel Man
2. I've Got News
3. Black Water
4. Jimmy Bell
5. Newspaper Reporter
6. Drinking & Driving
7. Fast Eddie
8. Sawmill Holler
9. Truck Driving Mama
10. I Know One
11. Got Love If You Want It
14. Judge Harsh Blues (Good Morning Judge)
Be on the lookout for BC Magazine's review of Watermelon Slim & The Workers' upcoming release, The Wheel Man.